Elections and Events 1996-1999


Democracy and its discontents: Nicaraguans face the election 1996: Provides background information for the election.

The observation of the 1996 Nicaraguan elections: a report of the Council of Freely Elected Heads of Government 1996: “An impressive 2,421,067 citizens registered to vote in the 1996 Nicaraguan elections, some 400,000 more than the initial estimate based on the flawed 1995 census” (page 17).

Vanden 1997: “As the 1996 elections approached, the orthodox Sandinista faction (the FSLN) began to ally itself with Antonio Lacayo’s newly formed National Project. The [MRS] was making common cause with the Christian Democratic Union, Virgilio Godoy’s Independent Liberal Party, Miriam Arguello’s Popular Conservative Alliance, the [MDN], and the [PNC]. The strongest contender for the 1996 presidential election was Managua’s conservative mayor, Arnoldo Alemán. Alemán was using his [PLC] to gain control of the now factionalized old Liberal Party (including Liberal groups who were allied with Somoza)” (page 69).

Vargas 1994: “De acuerdo al Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos (INEC), se estima que en 1996 podrán votar 2.347.738 personas mayores de 16 años; de los cuales el 53.29% serán mujeres y el 46.71% varones…(E)l voto mayoritario de mujeres…obligará a los partidos políticos a establecer una mayor cuota mujeres-candidatos, a fin de atraer el mayor número de votos de mujeres…(C)oncurrirán por primera vez a las urnas…583.215 personas entre hombres y mujeres, que representan el 24.73% de los votantes…(E)l voto juvenil…representará el 34.61% de los votos de 1996” (page 79). “Algunos indicadores básicos de los votantes en 1996” (page 80).

Zub K. 2002: “En visperas de las elecciones generales de 1996, surgió la ‘tercera via Cristiana,’ que luego se llamará Camino Cristiano Nicaragüense (CCN)” (page 64). “El CCN llevó como candidatos a Presidente al pastor Guillermo Osorno Molina…y al Ingeniero Roberto Rodríguez Obando, también de [las Asambleas de Dios]” (page 69). “(E)l MEP no hizo campaña independiente por cuanto su presidente Miguel Angel Casco, era candidato a diputado por el FSLN” (page 72).


Booth 1997: “The 1996 election law set the terms of office for president, vice president, and Assembly Deputy at five years and those of all municipal offices at four years. The voting age remains 16…Mariano Fiallos, CSE president since 1984, resigned to protest the insufficient funding and the late administrative changes. The Assembly then appointed Rosa Marina Zelaya of the MRS, former executive secretary of the CSE, to replace Fiallos…The 1996 revision of the election law permitted both national parties and local popular subscription organizations to nominate municipal candidates, while only the former could nominate presidential and National Assembly candidates” (page 388).

Close 1999: The “amended Electoral Law…would affect electoral administration in several ways. First, it added three races to the list of those to be decided on 20 October 1996. Mayors would now be directly elected by voters instead of by municipal councils; twenty of the National Assembly’s ninety members would be elected at large—that is, on a national ticket—rather than from departmental lists; and Nicaragua’s delegates to the Central American Parliament in Guatemala also had to be chosen. This translated to six simultaneous elections: president, departmental deputies, national deputies, members of the Central American Parliament, mayors, and municipal councils. As Nicaraguan elections use paper ballots, not voting machines, and since two dozen parties ran nationally, the actual ballot papers were almost a yard long. A second complication arose from a new electoral map the law introduced. Where in 1990 there had been nine electoral divisions, there were now seventeen, corresponding to the revised departmental structure of the country. Accordingly, where before there were nine Departmental Electoral Councils, there were now seventeen...[whose members] would henceforth be named by political parties. Party nominees would also replace CSE employees at the 8,995 polling stations” (page 181).

Democracy weakened? A report on the October 20, 1996 Nicaraguan elections 1997: “Mariano Fiallos argued against 15 of the reforms included in a poorly drafted 1995 electoral reform law...In late January of 1996, he unexpectedly resigned insisting that with massive administrative changes and insufficient funds, he could not guarantee the soundness of the election” (page 7).

Electoral observation Nicaragua, 1996 1997: “The Election Law, passed by the National Assembly on December 5, 1995, and approved by the Executive on January 8, 1996, establishes the general powers of the electoral branch, defines the various stages of the process, and determines the composition and functions of the CSE, the powers and functions of magistrates, the qualifications of candidates to these offices, and their terms of office” (page 11).

Fiallos Oyanguren 2000: “El sistema [de elecciones] has sido reformado por…la Ley Electoral del 11 de enero de 1996” (page 247).

Hoyt 1997: “In January of 1996, the National Assembly passed amendments to the electoral law which politicized the formerly apolitical Supreme Electoral Council to the degree that the long-time head of that branch of the Nicaraguan government, Mariano Fiallos, resigned after energetically lobbying against them. The subjection of the Electoral Council’s national and regional structures to the pressures of party politics along with the complexity of the electoral process (there were 24 political parties running for local, national and Central American offices on six separate paper ballots) presented the former supporters of the Somoza dictatorship with the opportunity to commit fraud” (page 184).

Latin American regional reports. Caribbean & Central America 3 October 1996: “Mariano Fiallos [was] president of the CSE from 1984 to 1996” (Latinnews.com).

McCoy 1997: “(T)he election law changed the 9 geographic electoral departments to 17, and doubled the number of individual polling stations from the 1990 elections. This required not only additional officials, but also new cartography and revised voter assignments…(T)he new law required that political parties nominate candidates for posts on the 17 departmental electoral councils and at the 8,995 polling stations; officials would then be appointed by the [CSE] on a pluralist basis…(T)he assembly mandated simultaneous elections for six different races: president and vice president, the National Assembly, the Central American Parliament (a new regional body), mayoralties, and municipal councils. With 24 political parties and popular organizations participating, each of the six separate ballots turned out to be nearly three feet long. Finally, the assembly approved a mixed voter-registration system because the program to provide every Nicaraguan with a new permanent identification card (‘cédula’) could not be completed in time for the 1996 elections” (page 76). Describes how voter registration was carried out.

Nicaragua election observation report, October 20, 1996 1997: “For a variety of reasons, even though the ‘cedulación’ process began in 1993, it was clear by late 1995 that the CSE would not be able to complete the process prior to the October 1996 elections. The failure to complete the ‘cedulación’ process greatly complicated voter registration and compelled the electoral authorities to implement a mixed registration process, in which 119 municipalities...were to be ‘cedulized,’ and 26 municipalities would be registered via the traditional ‘ad hoc’ process. The January 1996 Electoral Law establishes the following as valid voting documents: ‘Cédula de Identidad:’ national citizen identification document...’Documento Supletorio:’ supplemental document distributed to those citizens who applied for the ‘cédula’ but did not actually receive it. “Libreta Cívica:’ temporary voting document given to citizens who registered via the ‘Ad Hoc’ process in the 26 municipalities that were not ‘cedulized.’ ‘Constancia:’ although not anticipated in the Electoral Law, the CSE adopted this fourth voting document on the day before the election to be given to citizens, who, although having applied for registration, had still not received either the ‘cédula’ or the ‘documento supletorio.’” (page 11). “Mixed system of voter registration” (pages 11-13).

The observation of the 1996 Nicaraguan elections: a report of the Council of Freely Elected Heads of Government 1996: The reforms “shortened the presidential term from six to five years and the mayoral and municipal council terms from six to four years so that in the future these races would not all be held simultaneously” (page 15).

Ortega Hegg 2001: “El regimen de partidos políticos en Nicaragua está regulado por la Ley Electoral (Ley No. 211 del 9 de enero de 1996)” (page 121). Describes the law.

Patterson 1997: “The President of the [CSE], Mariano Fiallos,…resigned in January 1996 in protest at lack of resources for staging a complex electoral process and also because of a change in the electoral law which replaced CSE officials in departmental electoral offices with party nominees” (page 395).

La política es aún un campo dominado por los hombres 1997: “La población apta para ejercer su derecho al sufragio era de 2,284,023 nicaragüenses, representando las mujeres un poco más del 60% de la población electoral” (page 5).


Hoyt 1997: “The [Sandinista] primaries were held on February 18, 1996” (page 154). Describes the primary (pages 154-155).

Luciak 2001: Describes Vilma Núñez’s candidacy for president in the primary (pages 121-123). “Ortega’s allies apparently were threatened by her candidacy and took steps to make sure Núñez would not succeed…In spite of these efforts, Núñez obtained 26 percent of the vote” (page 122).

Zub K. 2002: “En las elecciones internas realizadas en 1996, [Miguel Angel Casco, fundador de MEP] se postuló como candidato para ocupar la vice-presidencia de la República, elecciones en las que obtuvo 147 mil votos y donde compitió con el comandante Tomás Borge quien obtuvo 12.500 votos y con Benigna Mendiola” (page 90).


Blandón 2001: “One measure of the success of the efforts to consolidate the autonomous women’s movement was the formation of the first pluralistic alliance of women in the context of the 1996 election campaign. That grouping, which was known as the National Women’s Coalition (Coalición Nacional de Mujeres), united women from extremely wide-ranging ideological, political, and social backgrounds...(T)he National Women’s Coalition...made its first public appearance in March 1996” (page 115). “The National Women’s Coalition presented the Minimum Agenda on 8 March 1996...The slogan ‘Diverse, Different, and United’ linked a wide array of people: two thousand women, the diplomatic corps, presidents of a number of political parties, members of President Barrios de Chamorro’s cabinet, Congressional representatives (both men and women), and representatives of the social movements” (page 1210.

Central America report 14 March 1996: “Sergio Ramírez is chosen as presidential candidate for the Sandinista Renewal Movement (MRS). The party is looking for electoral alliances, but rules out the ‘orthodox’ Sandinistas along with parties on the right of the political spectrum... Meanwhile, the number of potential voters shrinks as the Supreme Electoral Tribunal announces that Nicaraguans living abroad will not be able to exercise their right to vote...The MRS split off from the FSLN in early 1995 blaming an allegedly outmoded political style dominated by an entrenched party hierarchy led by former president Daniel Ortega” (page 3).

Close 1999: A “commitment the FSLN undertook was to name a woman to every second spot on the twenty-person national candidates list, as well as to assure that 30 percent of all candidacies, national and local, would go to women” (page 186).

Kampwirth 2004: “At a rally of more than two thousand women on March 8, 1996, the National Women’s Coalition presented its Minimum Agenda to the parties. Three parties and coalitions—the FSLN, the MRS, and PRONAL—eventually signed the agenda, committing themselves to a series of significant gender reforms…Arnoldo Alemán…refused to sign the agenda or to even meet with members of the coalition, even though many women from his own party belonged to the coalition” (pages 69-70).

Radical women in Latin America: left and right 2001: “1996: The National Coalition of Women is formed, uniting women on the left and the right to press for a common agenda” (page 32).

Tenorio 1996: “Mujeres de diez partidos políticos, del Movimiento Amplio e individuales conforman la Coalición Nacional de Mujeres para que se garantice la formulación de políticas con enfoque de género en las plataformas electorales o programas de gobierno y para que el partido que gane el poder cumpla con ellos, la coalición presentó el 8 de marzo de 1996 una nueva proclama o agenda mínima que fue respaldada ese mismo día por centenares de mujeres que firmaron dándole un voto de confianza” (page 16). Summarizes the four main points (pages 17-18). “Los partidos políticos y las mujeres en el presente proceso electoral” (pages 22-33). “Visión de las ciudadanas acerca de la participación de la mujer en el proceso electoral” (page 34-41).


Democracy weakened? A report on the October 20, 1996 Nicaraguan elections 1997: “In mid-April, Rosa Marina Zelaya was elected...CSE President” (page 7).


Hoyt 1997: “The FSLN party congress was held on May 4-5, 1996” (page 155).

The observation of the 1996 Nicaraguan elections: a report of the Council of Freely Elected Heads of Government 1996: “23 candidates for presidency, representing 35 political parties (some in alliances), were registered and approved during the May filing period, reflecting the continued fragmentation of the party system” (page 16).

Ortega Hegg 2001: “En mayo de 1996 siete mujeres más asumieron los cargos de alcaldesas en sustitución de alcaldes que renunciaron para lanzarse a la reelección. Ello incluyó al municipio de Managua, el más importante del país. Así, en el período 1990-1996 existieron en el país un total de 24 alcaldesas, lo que significa un 17% del total” (page 133).


Close 1999: “Ad hoc [voter] registration began in June in twenty-six municipalities where violence had impeded earlier registration” (page 183).

Electoral observation Nicaragua, 1996 1997: Discusses problems with voter registration system and efforts to correct errors by registering from June 1 to July 8 Nicaraguans who had “been omitted from the certification process for the issuance of identity cards...During the operation, 359,856 persons were registered” (page xiv).

Nicaragua election observation report, October 20, 1996 1997: “26 municipalities in the northern and central regions of the country were not included in the ‘cedulación’ process and were registered instead using the ‘ad hoc’ system. Historically, these municipalities comprise areas that were the nucleus of Contra operations during the civil war...To register voters in these areas, the CSE conducted the ‘Ad Hoc’ registration during four weekends—three in June and one in July” (page 13).


Chamorro 1998: “Un mes antes de la campaña, el Consejo Supremo Electoral decretó la eliminación de cuatro candidatos presidenciales: Antonio Lacayo, Alvaro Robelo, Haroldo Montealegre y Edén Pastora—todos competidores del centro político—por distintas causas de incompatibilidad con la Ley electoral” (page 205).

Country report. Nicaragua, Honduras 1996, 3: “On July 5 the [CSE] barred the presidential candidacies of Antonio Lacayo of the pro-government Proyecto Nacional, Alvaro Robelo of the Alianza Nicaragüense and Eden Pastora of the Partido Acción Democrática” (page 15). Gives reasons for the CSE’s decisions.

Nicaragua election observation report, October 20, 1996 1997: “The deadline for application [for a ‘cédula’] was July 22, 1996. According to official data, 2,060,000 citizens applied for ‘cédula’ in the 1991 municipalities” (page 11). “In all, the CSE disqualified four presidential candidates: Eden Pastora (PAD), Alvaro Robelo (ARRIBA Nicaragua), and Haroldo Montealegre (PUL) for having renounced their Nicaraguan citizenship; and Antonio Lacayo (PRONAL), for his relation to the sitting President of Nicaragua, Violeta Chamorro” (page 13).


Latin American regional reports. Caribbean & Central America 3 October 1996: “(A) month before the 20 October election day, half of the 2.4m Nicaraguans on the electoral roll had still not received the identity documents that would enable them to cast their votes…The president of Consejo Supremo Electoral (CSE), Rosa Marina Zelaya, a Sandinista, gave assurances in mid-September that large-scale distribution of ‘cedulas’ and other documents had begun in the Managua region, where 33% of the electorate live, and the process would be completed in good time for the elections…There are 23 presidential candidates registered with the CSE, standing for 19 parties and four alliances, but only two with a real chance of winning” (Latinnews.com).

October 17

Barnes 1998: “The most important factor contributing to Aleman’s widening lead in the last days before the election was a strong anti-Sandinista offensive by the leadership of private business and, in particular, the Catholic church...The actions of Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo were particularly important. After the close of the campaign, when all election propaganda was banned, Cardinal Obando invited presidential candidate Aleman and the AL candidate for mayor of Managua, Roberto Cedeno, to participate in a mass with him, which was broadcast live on television” (electronic version).

Pérez-Baltodano 2004: “The possible return of the FSLN to power induced Cardinal Obando y Bravo to use his considerable authority in an openly partisan manner” (page 90). Describes the Cardinal’s “endorsement” of Arnoldo Alemán at a mass on October 17.

October 20: general election (Alemán / AL)

Alcántara Sáez 1999: “Las elecciones del 20 de octubre de 1996 llevaron a la Presidencia a Arnoldo Alemán Lacayo al frente de una coalición denominada Alianza Liberal en la que su partido, el Liberal Constitucionalista, era el elemento central” (page 284). “Las elecciones de 1996 articularon la oposición antisandinista en la Alianza Liberal (AL) estructurada en torno al somocista Partido Liberal Constitucionalista y acompañado por los muy minoritarios Convergencia Liberal, Partido Liberal Independiente de Unidad Nacional, Partido Neo-Liberal y Partido Unionista Centroamericano. Los esfuerzos por encontrar con éxito un espacio centrista no validaron la opción del Movimiento de Renovación Sandinista (MRS) ni del Camino Cristiano Nicaragüense (CCN) cuya representación parlamentaria era casi simbólica” (page 298).

Anderson, Leslie 2002: “Helped by Chamorro’s endorsement, Alemán grew coattails long enough to sweep the Liberals to a majority in the 93-seat, unicameral National Assembly, obviating the need for a coalition with the Conservatives” (page 85).

Blandón 2001: In 1996 the “majority of the parties included more women in their national and local slates of candidates than had been the case in the past. Nonetheless, those percentages were still quite low. Only two of the twenty-three parties that participated in the election ran a woman as their candidate for president [the Alianza Popular Conservadora and the Partido Unionista Centroamérica], while another two of the twenty-three ran women as their candidates for vice-president [the Proyecto Nacional and the Partido Integracionista de América Central]. Twenty-two percent of the candidates for representative to the National Assembly, 95 out of 435, were women. But the effective percentage was much smaller: only 11, or 15 percent of the female candidates, were in the first three positions on each slate—the only ones with the real possibility of being elected” (page 125). “Some party leaders responded suspiciously to the creation of the Coalition...This happened in the cases of the [PRN], the [PNC], and the [PSC]...The Sandinista party leaders...had promised that 30 percent of the candidates for offices would be women, but when it came time to put together the slates of candidates for parliament, the party leaders maneuvered to put women in the lower positions on the slate, leaving men in more favorable spots. It was only because of the last-minute intervention of some female Sandinista leaders that the situation was partially reversed. Of the 145 mayors who were elected in October 1996, 9 were women; 23 of the 145 vice-mayors were women. The number of women in the National Assembly went down, in comparison with the previous legislature. At that time (between 1990 and 1996), 17 of the 92 representatives (or 20 percent) were women, while only 10 of the 93 who were elected to the National Assembly in 1996, or 10.75 percent, were women” (page 126). Describes the reasons for the loss in women’s representation (pages 126-127).

Booth 1997: Has sections on “The Nicaraguan political situation in 1996,” “The electoral system,” “The parties,” “Conduct of the election,” “The results,” and “Analysis and prospects.” “ Nicaragua employs direct elections for all offices…The Assembly has 70 Deputies elected from slates for the 15 departments and two Autonomous Regions, allocated in proportion to the areas’ populations. Another 20 Assembly seats are selected from national party lists in a separate vote. In addition, defeated presidential candidates who receive more than approximately 1.5 per cent of the national presidential vote gain seats in the Assembly. Since three presidential candidates attained the required threshold of votes, the new Assembly has 93 members” (pages 387-388). “Women won eleven of 93 National Assembly Seats (four of twenty on the national lists). Five of twenty Central American Parliament representatives are women, ten of 145 mayors, and 23 of 145 vice mayors. Compared to 1990, the number of women elected at all levels in 1996 was substantially lower. The FSLN has the largest contingent of female National Assembly deputies, the Liberal Alliance the smallest contingent among parties winning more than one seat” (page 391).

Booth 1998a: “Expectations for the October 20, 1996, national election ran very high. Virtually all national and local elected offices were at stake in this first truly postwar election and the first to be held since the FSLN lost power. Also at issue were the possibility that the FSLN or the Liberals might recover power, Nicaragua’s prospects for economic recovery, and the country’s future relations with the United States” (page 191). Describes the electoral system (pages 192-193). “Conduct of the 1996 election” (pages 193-196).

Booth 1999: “The Supreme Electoral Council (Consejo Supremo Electoral--CSE) found so many irregularities that it took over a month to announce official results. Ultimately the CSE had to throw out the votes from hundreds of precincts...AL presidential candidate Arnoldo Alemán beat perennial FSLN candidate Daniel Ortega by 51 as opposed to 38 percent of the vote. In the National Assembly, the Liberals took 42 seats as opposed to 36 for the FSLN and 15 divided among nine minor parties...An impressive 86 percent of the electorate appears to have voted” (page 96). “The official figure for voter turnout did not include voters in voting places where the tallies were annulled” (page 213).

Brysk 2000: “In 1996, former guerrilla leader Steadman Fagoth became regional governor of the Miskito” (page 81).

Central America report 24 October 1996: Discusses the election (pages 1-3). “Partial preliminary results” (page 3).

Butler 1996: Discusses the parties and processes involved in the upcoming 1996 election.

Central America report 14 November 1996: Gives the results (page 4).

Chamorro B. 1996: Describes events leading up to the election and gives election results.

Chamorro 1998: “A las lecciones presidenciales del 20 de octubre, concurrieron 19 partidos y cuatro alianzas de partidos políticos” (page 204). “Con razón se ha dicho que las elecciones del 20 de octubre han sido las más complejas de la historia nacional” (page 210). Gives reasons (pages 210-215). “El resultado de las elecciones legislativas y municipales, sumado a la victoria presidencial de la Alianza Liberal, arroja una nueva y contundente realidad: el bipartidismo político. En una Asamblea Legislativa de 93 diputados, la Alianza Liberal obtuvo 42 escaños y el Frente Sandinista 36, sin alcanzar ninguno de los dos la mayoría absoluta. Otros nueve partidos se repartieron los quince escaños restantes…En un país con una población evangélica aproximada del 20 por ciento del total, Camino Cristiano Nicaragüense, un partido evangélico encabezado por el predicador Guillermo Osorno—un total desconocido en la política—fue la verdadera sorpresa electoral. El CCN obtuvo un lejano tercer lugar con un poco más del cuatro por ciento de la votación” (page 215). “En el ámbito municipal, de los 145 municipios, la Alianza Liberal obtuvo 91 alcaldías y el FSLN ganó 52” (page 216).

Chronicle of parliamentary elections 30 1997: Describes electoral system, background and outcome of the elections, and give statistics, including the distribution of seats according to political group and the distribution of seats according to sex (out of 93 seats nine went to women in this election) (pages 199-202).

Close 1999: “Local elections, featuring directly elected mayors for the first time, were made more interesting by the presence of candidates running for local parties, not affiliated with any of the national organizations. Only one of these won, though, because in most municipalities fewer voters than expected strayed from their national preferences. Despite twenty-four parties or electoral alliances running for national offices, twenty-three of which contested the presidency, the 1996 Nicaraguan election was really a head-to-head, two-party fight between the AL and the FSLN” (page 175). “Nicaraguan general election results, 1996” (page 176). Gives number of votes for each party with more than 1 percent of the vote in the presidential election; the parties winning seats in the Assembly; the parties winning seats in the Central American Parliament; and the parties electing mayors. “Parties and alliances running nationally, 1996 (in order of votes received in the election for national deputies)” (page 185). “Four factors help explain why so many parties would fight an election dominated by a pair of heavyweights” (page 185). Lists them. “The elections of 1996” (pages 188-197).

Consejo Supremo Electoral 1996: lists candidates for each national office for each party.

Consejo Supremo Electoral 1996a: lists candidates for each municipal office for each party.

Country profile. Nicaragua, Honduras 1996-1997: “Until October 20, 1996, there were a large number of small political parties; 35 parties were registered by the CSE to run candidates in the general election. Some formed alliances and between them they fielded 23 presidential candidates, 854 candidates for the National Assembly and 2,838 candidates for municipal posts. However, most of them lost their deposits on October 20” (page 19). “Presidential parties with presidential aspirations in 1996” (page 20).

Country report. Nicaragua, Honduras 1996, 4: “The right-wing candidate of the Alianza Liberal, Arnoldo Alemán Lacayo, has won the October 20 presidential election by a 51% to 38% margin over Daniel Ortega of the left-wing [FSLN]. By winning more than 45% of the votes, Mr Alemán took the presidency in the first round…The other 21 presidential candidates, representing 17 parties and four alliances, received a scant 11% of the votes between them…The Alianza Liberal won control of 94 of the country’s 145 municipalities, while the FSLN won 49” (page 17). Gives results of the National Assembly election. “ Nicaragua: make-up of the National Assembly from 1997” (page 18). Gives the number of deputies for each party at the national and regional level and presidential candidates who won seats. “The October election appears to have initiated a polarization to a two-party system. Most of the political spectrum, including the centrist parties, has been decimated…Few of the minor parties will survive as viable forces, and 12 which did not gain any seats in the legislature will be removed from the electoral register” (page 19).

Democracy weakened? A report on the October 20, 1996 Nicaraguan elections 1997: “The election framework” (pages 4-8). “In the Assembly election, 70 deputies were elected from 15 departments and two autonomous regional slates, with seats allocated to each in proportion to population, while 20 more deputies were elected from a national list...The Assembly now totals 93 seats, as three out of the 22 losing presidential candidates obtained more than the minimum [of the presidential vote]. In the 145 municipalities, the small municipalities (106) elected four-member councils, while those with over 30,000 population (38) have eight-member councils. Managua elects 17 members to its council” (page 4). “Voter registration” (pages 9-12). “The campaigns and participation of ‘neutrals’” (pages 13-14). “The count and recount” (pages 15-18).

Elections on the Atlantic Coast: where politics moves on slippery turf 1997: “(A)ny attempt to analyze the October 20 elections in this 47% of Nicaragua’s territory must also keep in mind a number of elements that affected both the attitude and turnout level of voters. Among them are the low preparation level and easy corruptibility of the autonomous authorities; the multiple interethnic and both inter- and intra-party schisms; the Chamorro government’s intentional abandonment of the coast…; the destruction of roads and bridges due to lack of maintenance; high unemployment; and a burgeoning drug traffic and use, particularly of cocaine” (page 31). “One of the most destructive rivalries is the 17-year-old power struggle between Miskito leaders Stedman Fagoth and Brooklyn Rivera…Today they head warring factions of YATAMA” (page 32). “The 1996 general elections” (pages 34-40). Has table on results in the presidential election (page 34). “This was the first time in history that Atlantic Coast municipalities elected their mayors and municipal councilors. It could have happened in 1994, but the Autonomy Statute stipulated that the Regional Councils first had to draw up the municipal boundaries, since historically there was no formal demarcation, and they did not do it in time” (page 35). “Elections for municipal mayor—RAAS and RAAN (results for the winner and runner-up by municipality)” (page 35). “Composition of the Municipal Councils RAAN and RAAS” (page 36).

Electoral observation Nicaragua, 1996 1997: “There were 23 candidates for President, of whom 19 were presented by political parties and 4 by party alliances. For the first time in national elections, there was also participation by 55 groups made up of citizens on the electoral register of a single electoral district or precinct, known as people’s subscription associations. According to the Electoral Law, all such groups must number at least 5 percent of the electorate, and they can present candidates throughout the country for mayor, deputy mayor, municipal council members, and regional council members in the autonomous Atlantic Coast regions. Counting the people’s subscription associations, 78 political groups, with a total of more than 11,923 candidates, participated on the October 20 elections” (page 11). “Technical aspects of the election” (pages 21-37). “Political aspects of the election” (pages 39-45). “Election day” (pages 47-59). “Post-election phase” (pages 61-75). “Analysis of the results” (pages 77-81). “Complaints” (pages 83-89).

Fiallos Oyanguren 2000: “Las elecciones de 1996” (pages 259-262).

Fisk 1998: “General data” (page i). Includes registered voters, accredited voters, votes cast, valid votes, invalid votes, and voter participation for Atlantic Coast elections of 1996 and 1998.

González 1997: “Las mujeres desempeñaron un papel decisivo en las elecciones nicaragüenses que se llevaron a cabo en octubre de 1996. Gran número de ellas votaron por el candidato liberal Arnoldo Alemán” (page 197).

Hoyt 1997: “The Sandinistas lost the October 20, 1996, elections to the Liberal Alliance headed by the right-wing, populist, former mayor of Managua, Arnoldo Alemán. In the presidential contest, Daniel Ortega, the FSLN candidate, received 38% of the vote to 51% for Alemán. In the 93-member National Assembly, the Liberal Alliance holds 42 seats (45%) while the FSLN holds 36 seats (39%) with smaller parties holding the remaining seats. The FSLN won mayoral elections in 52 municipalities, as against 13 in the previous elections of 1990, but far below the 91 mayorships taken by the Liberal Alliance. The elections were fraught with irregularities” (page 184). Describes potential for fraud (pages 185-186).

Isbester 2001: “The election was controversial due to electoral irregularities. These irregularities were uncorrected, so the official election results had the Liberal Alliance with forty-four seats, or 52 percent, and the FSLN with thirty-seven seats, or 38 percent of the popular vote” (page 175). “During the election, the FSLN fulfilled its promise of a 30 percent quota of women’s participation. From a total of ninety Sandinista candidates, thirty-two (or 35.6 percent) were female versus 18.9 percent in the 1990 election. However, the female candidates were mostly running ridings where the FSLN was unlikely to win. The men were given preferential access to the safe seats. Sandinista women were outraged at the FSLN’s placement of women in no-win seats. Weakened by the split with the MRS and worried about the powerful showings of the Liberal Alliance at the polls, the National Directorate agreed to ‘braid’ (i.e., alternate) male and female positions in the establishment of the national list…(T)here were only eight (22 percent) female members elected to the National Assembly, with the majority of women elected as alternates (fifteen, or 41.7 percent). Despite the braiding, the number of women holding seats in the National Assembly actually dropped from 23.1 percent in 1990 to 22 percent in 1996…The Liberal Alliance had only eight female candidates running with fourteen alternates, none of whom was in prominent positions or safe seats. Not a single Liberal Alliance woman won a seat in the National Assembly…Only the Conservative Party (with two seats) and the Independent Liberal Party (with one seat) each had one female legislator” (page 176-177).

Kampwirth 2004: “The October 1996 election was seriously marred by electoral fraud. Ballots marked for the FSLN were found in garbage cans; blank ballots, tens of thousands of them, were found in the homes of Liberal activists; results from hundreds of polling places, mainly those run by Liberal Party officials, simply disappeared. Few serious observers thought that the FSLN would have actually won the presidential election without the fraud, but fraud probably did sway a few congressional and mayoral outcomes” (page 212).

Latin American regional reports. Caribbean & Central America 3 October 1996: “Nicaraguans over 16 years of age go to the polls on 20 October to elect a President, Vice-President and 90-seat national assembly for five-year terms. A total of 145 mayors and local councils will be elected for four-year periods. There will be 7,869 polling stations throughout the country. Six different ballot papers will be issued, the complexity of which makes a large number of spoilt ballots inevitable. Additionally, some 30% of the voting-age population are illiterate. The newly-elected governments will take office on 10 January 1997” (Latinnews.com).

Luciak 1998: “Gender composition of FSLN candidates for parliament, 1996 elections” (page 225).

Luciak 2001: “The [defecting Sandinista] deputies paid a high price for supporting the MRS…In the 1996 elections, the FSLN dissidents were, for obvious reasons, not nominated as FSLN candidates; and those that ran on the MRS ticket failed to get elected” (page 125). “The Nicaraguan Resistance Party received 21,068 votes, gaining one seat in parliament, while a mere 5,272 voters supported Pastora’s Democratic Action Party” (page 141). “On the candidate lists for 1996—when the 30 percent quota for women was applied for the first time—the women of the FSLN substantially increased their representation. In these elections for parliament, women represented 35.6 percent of all candidates and substitutes, as compared to 18.9 percent in 1990. Of the ninety candidates, thirty-two were female…(W)omen were more successful in getting on the national list than the departmental lists. In Nicaragua, the composition of the national list was decided by delegates elected to a National Congress…While female candidates held about one-third of the positions on the department lists, they held 45 percent of the twenty seats on the national slate” (page 208). Discusses this phenomena (pages 208-209). “(T)he Liberal Alliance had only eight female candidates and fourteen substitutes in its lists, none of them in a prominent position. As a result, despite winning the elections and gaining forty-two seats in parliament, the Liberal Alliance had only a single female representative. Three minor parties—the MRS, the Nicaraguan Unity Party, Workers, Peasants and Professionals and the Democratic Nicaraguan Alliance—had female candidates heading their national lists. The last two did not gain a single seat” (pages 209-210). “Of the thirty-six FSLN deputies elected in 1996, only eight were female” (page 216). Discusses other electoral results (pages 216-218). “Nicaraguan legislative elections, 1996” (page 219).

Manual de capacitación electoral: votación y escrutinio: elecciones 1996 1996: Includes procedural information on all aspects of the 1996 election.

Manual electoral del periodista 1996: “Datos generales” (page 35). Incluyes a wide variety of statistics related to the election, including the number of candidates for each position. “Partidos políticos con personalidad juridical” (pages 47-57). “Alianzas electorales” (pages 58-59). “Asociaciones de suscripción popular” (pages 60-61). “Candidatos a la presidencia y a la alcaldía de Managua” (pages 63-79).

McCoy 1997: “The election results placed in stark relief the continued polarization of Nicaraguan society, with the two best organized parties on opposite sides of the political spectrum garnering 89 percent of the vote…The much vaunted ‘center’ disappeared, with none of the remaining 21 candidates receiving more than 4 percent of the vote” (page 75). “The campaign” (pages 76-77). “Recounts, recursos, and results” (pages 77-78). “The aftermath” (pages 78-79).

Metoyer 2000: Women “represented more than 60 percent of the electorate in the 1996 elections…(D)uring the bid for the presidency in 1996, it was considered normal that there were twenty-three male candidates and only one female candidate, Miriam Arguello Morales of the Alianza Popular Conservadora (APC)” (page 6). “Of the 851 candidates inscribed for municipal and national positions, 230 (27.02 percent) were women…(O)nly one woman ran for vice presidential office, Carmen Argentina Rojas de Espinoza of the [PIAC]. Moreover, only two women were listed first on the ballot for national deputy candidates, Dora María Téllez Arguello of the [MRS] and Elisa Patterson of [PADENIC]. Whereas the FSLN promoted the active participation of women and defended women’s rights, it did not actively advance women candidates at the national level. Nevertheless, the FSLN was the only party that attempted to incorporate more women on the ballot in 1996 by requiring that at least 30 percent of party nominees for the popular consultation election be women. This attempt to guarantee female candidates within the FSLN party was subverted by the low placement of women on the ballot order” (page 116). Describes the “trenzado” and how it is applied by the FSLN to secure women lead positions on the national ballot. “The victorious AL listed eight female candidates and fourteen substitutes; none, however, were in the first position on the national ballot. Hence, it is no surprise that of the forty-two seats gained by the AL, not a single female was elected to the National Assembly. Of the remaining twenty parties, only three had female candidates leading their lists, namely, the MRS, Partido Unidad Nicaragüense Obreros, Campesinos y Profesionales (PUNOCP), and PADENIC” (page 117).

Millett 2000: “An Evangelical political party finished third in the 1996 elections” (page 461). “The Nicaraguan Christian Way (CCN) is the only other party guaranteed a place on the ballot. It won just over 4 percent of the vote in 1996 and represents an effort to convert the growing community of Nicaraguan Evangelicals into a political force” (page 464).

Movimiento de mujeres en Centroamérica 1997: “[L]a ciudadanía concurrió masivamente a las urnas el 20 de octubre de 1996 para elegir Presidente, diputados nacionales, diputados departamentales, alcaldes, concejales y diputados al Parlamento Centroamericano...La Alianza Liberal ganó las elecciones con 51 por ciento de los votos sobre 38 del FSLN. Los 21 partidos restantes tuvieron en conjunto menos del 12 por ciento de los votos en la eleccion presidencial...Además del Poder Ejecutivo, los liberales conquistaron 42 escaños en el Poder Legislativo frente a 36 escaños del FSLN y 15 de otros nueve partidos. En el poder municipal, 92 de las 145 alcaldías están en manos de liberales y 51 en manos de sandinistas” (page 362). “(E)n las seis elecciones que se llevaron a cabo el 20 de octubre, la gran mayoría de los candidatos ganadores son varones. De los 403 funcionarios electos (contando sólo diputaciones y alcaldes y vice-alcaldes) solamente el 12 por ciento (49) son mujeres. Las mujeres alcanzaron su mayor porcentaje de participación en el PARLACEN (25 por ciento) y el más bajo en los escaños a diputados departamentales (10 por ciento)” (page 368). “De las 49 mujeres que resultaron electas, el 51 por ciento pertenece a la Alianza Liberal; el 45 por ciento al FSLN y el 2 por ciento restante (dos mujeres) pertenece al Partido Liberal Independiente y a la UNO 96. Mientras la casi totalidad de las mujeres electas por la Alianza Liberal ocupará cargos locales (alcaldesas y vicealcaldesas), la mayoría de las electas por el FSLN ocupará cargos de más alto nivel: diputadas nacionales y departamentales a la Asamblea Nacional y el PARLACEN” (page 369).

Nicaragua election observation report, October 20, 1996 1997: “The October 20, 1996 elections marked the first time since 1990 that Nicaraguan citizens had a chance to vote at the national, as well as local level. Nicaragua elected a new president, vice president, deputies to the National Assembly, deputies to the Central American Parliament, mayors and vice mayors, and members of the municipal councils. In all, some 34,000 candidates competed for the approximately 2,000 positions being contested” (page 2). “Prior to the 1996 elections, Nicaragua had 43 different political parties...(T)he multiplication of parties during the 1996 election process led to a fragmented political panorama and revealed the profound financial and institutional weakness of all but a handful. Of the many parties competing, some 75 percent failed to achieve parliamentary representation” (page 4). “Electoral ballot manufacturing” (page 16). “Distribution of electoral materials” (pages 16-17). Electoral environment” (pages 18-21). “Vote counting and related processes” (pages 22-26).

Núñez Vargas 1996: “Para muchos consideradas las elecciones más complejas de la historia nicaragüense…Factores básicos del sistema electoral como lo fueron la participación de 23 organizaciones políticas en la contienda presidencial, 6 diferentes elecciones en un solo acto comicial, tres documentos de identificación para ejercer el derecho al voto, se conjugaron con elementos típicos de la realidad y dinámica política nicaragüense” (pages 37-38). “(E)l ciudadano tuvo que votar con 6 boletas diferentes, una para cada tipo de cargo de elección popular. Cada boleta tuvo una franja de color diferenciable de las otras, las cuales tenían que ser depositadas en seis urnas diferentes, una para cada boleta y con el mismo color” (page 47). “Inscripción electoral” (pages 47-48). “Nicaragua: alianzas inscritas para las elecciones 1996” (page 52). Gives name, date registered, president, and vice-president. “Nicaragua: partidos inscritos para las elecciones 1996” (page 47). Gives name, date of registration, president, and vice-president. “El dia de las elecciones” (page 55-57). “Escrutinio, conteo y proclamación de resultados” (pages 57-58). “Resultados electorales” (page 58-66). Has a variety of tables reporting election results.

The observation of the 1996 Nicaraguan elections: a report of the Council of Freely Elected Heads of Government 1996: “On October 20, 1996, 1,849,362 Nicaraguans (76.39 percent of the registered voters) cast their ballots in a peaceful election that allowed for an orderly transfer of power from one civilian government to another” (page 22). Includes a great deal of information on the election.

Ortega Hegg 2001: “En las Elecciones para Presidente y Vicepresidente, Diputados ante la Asamblea Nacional, Diputados al Parlamento Centroamericano, Alcaldes y Vice Alcaldes y Miembros de los Concejos Municipales del 20 de octubre de 1996, participaron un total de 23 partidos políticos. Los resultados electorales llevaron en la práctica a la desaparición de 19 agrupaciones pequeñas, que no obtuvieron el número de votos necesarios para mantener su personería juridical” (page 130). “En las elecciones de 1996 fueron electas como alcaldesas 10 mujeres de un total de 145 cargos en disputa, para un total de 6.90%. No obstante, se eligieron 23 Vice alcaldesas para un 17.86% del total. Cabe indicar que el cargo de Vice alcaldesa no existía en 1990, por lo que no es posible establecer comparaciones. En los Concejos municiples fueron electas como concejalas propietarias un 23% de mujeres y 28% como concejalas suplentes. De esta manera se puede observar que con relación a 1990, en 1996 bajó el número de mujeres alcaldesas, pero se incrementó el número de concejalas...De manera más general, en las seis elecciones que se llevaron a cabo en 1996, la gran mayoría de los ganadores son varones: de los 403 representantes o funcionarios electos…solo el 12% (49) son mujeres. De esas 49 mujeres, el 51% pertenece a la Alianza Liberal, el 45% al FSLN y el 4% restante (dos mujeres) pertenecen al Partido Liberal Independiente y a la UNO 96. La mayoría de las electas por el FSLN ocuparan cargos de más alto nivel (diputadas nacionales, departamentales y al PARLACEN), mientras la casi totalidad de las liberals ocupan cargos locales (alcaldesas o Vice alcaldesas)” (page 134).

Patterson 1997: Gives the results of the election (pages 380-381). Discusses the campaign (pages 391-395). “The FSLN, which had accepted the outcome of the 1990 elections when the votes were still being counted, refused to accept the results in 1996, alleging widespread fraud carried out by election officials linked to the Liberal Alliance” (page 395). Describes indications of fraud.

Payne 1996: “General data” (page i). Gives population, voting age, registered voters, votes cast, voter participation, valid votes, and invalid votes. “Parties, coalitions, and presidential candidates” (page ii). “On October 20, 1996, Arnoldo Alemán, the conservative former mayor of Managua, won the presidency by decisively defeating Daniel Ortega...Alemán’s Liberal Alliance, however, came up 5 seats short of a majority in the unicameral National Assembly, winning 42 seats to the Sandinistas’ 36...The Liberal Alliance won nearly two out of three municipal races” (page 1). Describes the election including the six ballots, each nearly a yard long, to include the 24 parties and coalitions participating in each of the six races (page 14).

La política es aún un campo dominado por los hombres 1997: “Con las elecciones del 20 de octubre de 1996, Nicaragua vivió un momento crucial para su futuro y la vida cotidiana de sus pobladores, mujeres y hombres. Mediante seis boletas se votó a dos mil 50 autoridades” (page 5). “Presidente y Vicepresidente; 93 diputadas y diputados; 145 alcaldes/as y vicealcaldes/as; 786 concejales propietarios e igual cantidad de suplentes; 20 diputados/as al PARLACEN y sus segundos” (page 97). Discusses election results (pages 62-63). “Las mujeres en el poder local 1997-2000” (page 68). Gives election results by department.

Rios Rocha 1997: “El 40% de la cuota obtenida por las mujeres de ese partido [MRS], mayoritariamente fue colocada en los últimos lugares de la lista de los votantes, por lo que difícilmente ellas podrían haber ganado algún escaño en las elecciones pasadas” (page 149). “[L]as estadísticas que se han obtenido de los resultados de las consultas populares...han demostrado que las mujeres no han sido elegidas por ocupar los últimos lugares en las listas de candidaturas, sí hay algunas que encabezaron listas, pero fueron pocas. Por ejemplo, el FSLN tuvo, almenos, mujeres en los primeros lugares en los departmentos de Managua, Chontales, lo mismo el Proyecto Nacional” (page 151).

Roots of the electoral crisis 1997: Discusses the electoral fraud committed during and after the 1996 elections.

Saballos 1997: “Resultados del conteo rápido: votos válidos (en porcentaje)” (page 173). “Elecciones generales 1996: elección para presidente y vicepresidente” (page 173). “Juntas anuladas (elección presidencial)” (page 176).

Traña Galeano 2000: “En las elecciones generales y municipales de octubre de 1996, el ingeniero Roberto Cedeño Borgen corrió como candidato para Alcalde de Managua por parte de la Alianza Liberal…La última elección popular y directa de un Alcalde de Managua había sido en 1929” (page 237).

Vargas 1996: “Habían 24 candidatos presidenciales que representaban a 35 partidos y/o agrupacions políticas legalmente inscritos. Sin embargo las elecciones generales giraron en torno a las figuras de los candidatos presidenciales de la Alianza Liberal, Arnoldo Alemán Lacayo, y del Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional, Daniel Ortega Saavedra” (page 72). “Resultados electorales: algunas reflexiones” (pages 83-87).

Vargas 1999: “Análisis sobre los resultados electorales de 1996” (pages 181-185). “Iglesia y las elecciones de 1996” (pages 191-194).

Walker 2000: “The 1996 election” (pages 80-81). “In the National Assembly, the Liberals took 42 seats as opposed to 36 for the FSLN and 15 divided among nine minor parties…An impressive 86 percent of the electorate appears to have voted. Yet, for those citizens who became ‘non-voters’ as a result of local tally annulments and most others who heard the denouncements and saw images of widespread confusion and possible corruption through the media, the sense of voter efficacy must have been significantly diminished” (page 81).

Wheaton 2002: “The election of Arnold Alemán in 1996 as the new president of Nicaragua at the head of a ‘Liberal Alliance’ was dominated by charges of fraud…The fact that the vote was very close meant that the two main political contenders in Nicaragua continued to be the same: the Liberals and the Sandinistas…The issue of power also came to the fore in the religious community. On the one hand, by publically supporting Alemán, Cardinal Obando y Bravo was opting once again to side with the old somocista elite against the hated Sandinistas” (page 72). “In the case of the evangelicals, a group of Pentecostal pastors, recognizing the political potential behind the now significant percentage of evangelicals in the country—nearly a quarter of the population—decided to run a political candidate for the presidency representing a ‘Christian’ party. While the new evangelical party won some 4% of the vote, the process ended up being more illusion than reality” (page 73). Describes the election and its aftermath (pages 73-76).

Zub K. 2002: “Las elecciones de Octubre de 1996 fueron convocadas para elegir al Presidente y Vice, a 70 diputados departamentales y 20 nacionales, a 20 diputados para el Parlamento Centroamericano y a 143 alcaldes y centenares de concejales municipales. A las elecciones se presentaron 24 partidos y numerosos movimientos locales de suscripción popular…A pesar de su tercer lugar, los 72.621 votos obtenidos [por el CCN] no representan un dato categórico para afirmar que ‘pentecostal vota por pentecostal,’ ‘hermano vota por hermano’ o que existe un corporativismo religioso. La elección mostró que su capacidad para movilizar al pueblo a favor de causas propias es parcial, pues de lo contrario, debían haber obtenido dos y tres veces más votos y cargos políticos. Los restantes 20 partidos acumularon juntos el 5% de los votos entre los cuales está el [PJN] que obtuvo 5.645 que representa el 0.32% del total de votos” (page 73).


Close 1999: “Multiple recounts take time, and it was only on 8 November, almost three weeks after the elections, that final presidential results were announced and Arnoldo Alemán declared the victor. Full results of all races were not available until 22 November” (page 195). Describes irregularities with the election results. “The last curious twist that the 1996 elections left Nicaragua was a ninety-three-member legislature with eighty-five freshmen” (page 196). Gives reasons for this.

Democracy weakened? A report on the October 20, 1996 Nicaraguan elections 1997: “Election results” (page 17).

Electoral observation Nicaragua, 1996 1997: “On November 22, 1996, the CSE published the final official results” (page xv).

How Nicaraguans voted 1997: Publishes data based on the CSE document “Provisional Electoral Results” of November 8, 1996 which “breaks the figures down by the 8,995 polling places (JRVs) that operated on election day” (page 36). Gives by department the results for the National Assembly election, including the number of seats won by party and the percent of votes obtained (page 43). “Municipal government distribution by department (number of mayors won)” (page 45). For the municipal council elections gives for each department capital the number of council members won by each party (page 47). “Gender division in elections (seats/%)” (page 48). For national representatives, departmental representatives, PARLACEN representatives, mayors, and vice mayors gives the number and percent that were men or women. “Women elected by party (seats/%)” (page 48). For National Assembly Representatives, PARLACEN representatives, mayors, and vice mayors gives the number and percent of total who were women.

Keesing’s record of world events November 1996: “Final Nicaraguan election results” (page 41361). Gives number of seats won by each party in the National Assembly and the Central American Parliament and the number of mayors elected by each party.

Latin American regional reports. Caribbean & Central America 12 December 1996: “Arnoldo Alemán Lacayo was proclaimed President-elect by the Consejo Supremo Electoral on 22 November. But the defeated Sandinista candidate, Daniel Ortega, still insisted that the results were fraudulent and his party would not recognize their legitimacy…The CSE, headed by a Sandinista, Rosa Marina Zelaya, did everything it reasonably could to placate Ortega, revising many of the provisional results announced on 8 November, and acknowledging that there had been some serious irregularities. But she rejected his argument that he would have won if the polls had been completely honest. Zelaya’s view was also shared by her predecessor, Mariano Fiallos…He said the undoubted shortcomings of the electoral process did not affect the final results. The international poll observers were of the same opinion, attributing most of the problems to poor organization rather than malevolence” (page 2).

Metoyer 2000: “The 1996 electoral results” (pages 117-121). “The official provisional results of Nicaragua’s national elections came three weeks following the October 20, 1996, elections. Although estimates show that voter registration increased from the previous elections to 2,233,000, overall voter turnout declined to 77 percent” (page 117). “Nicaraguan legislative official provisional results, 1996” (page 118).

The observation of the 1996 Nicaraguan elections: a report of the Council of Freely Elected Heads of Government 1996: “Official results were not reported until Nov. 8. Called ‘provisional’ results because the SEC had not yet considered appeals, the totals gave AL candidate Arnoldo Alemán a first-round victory with 51.03 percent of the vote to Sandinista candidate Daniel Ortega’s 37.75 percent, a larger spread than the preliminary results. Camino Cristiano candidate Guillermo Osorno took third with 4.10 percent of the vote” (pages 31-32). “On Nov. 22, in a much-postponed and sparsely attended ceremony held near midnight, the SEC announced the outcome of the appeals and the final election results…The SEC named Arnoldo Alemán as the winning presidential candidate with 50.99 percent of the vote to Daniel Ortega’s 37.83 percent. In the legislature, the Liberals won 42 seats, and the Sandinistas won 35 seats plus a special seat for Mr. Ortega as a losing presidential candidate with more than 1.5 percent of the vote. Camino Cristiano won a total of four seats, the Nicaraguan Conservative party won three seats (both included their presidential candidates), the National Project gained two, and six other parties gained one seat each. In the mayoral races, the popular vote showed only a 7 percent difference between the top two parties in the aggregate vote of all the races. Liberals captured 91 of the 145 mayorships, including the capital city of Managua, but Sandinistas took 52 mayorships, and two small parties each elected a mayor” (page 33). “Presidential results” (pages 59-60). “National Assembly results by party” (page 60). “Mayoral results by department” (page 61). “Central American Parliament results” (page 61). “Municipalities with more annulled votes than difference in votes among the top two candidates” (page 62).

Zub K. 2002: “En total nueve diputados evangélicos fueron electos, de los cuales cuatro son del CCN: Guillermo Osorno Molina y Francisco Garcia Saravia son de las Asambleas de Dios, Marcos Antonio Castillo de la iglesia de Dios y Orlando Mayorga Sánchez, adventista” (page 74). “Los tres diputados del PLC son de la Costa Atlántica: Steadman Fagoth Muller, Leonel Panting Wilson y Saul Zamora, todos de la iglesia Morava; Miguel Angel Casco del FSLN, con origen en las Asambleas de Dios pero luego de la Misión Cristiana e Ismael José Torez Calero de la iglesia de Dios por el Partido Conservador. En su conjunto, los evangélicos representan el 10,3 por ciento de diputados de la Asamblea Nacional, son varones, a pesar del alto índice de mujeres en las iglesias (más del 65%)” (page 75). “Por otra parte, por el FSLN fueron electos alcaldes evangélicos en Malpaisillo (León), en La Concordia (Jinotega) y en La Dalia (Matagalpa), además de numerosos concejales municipales” (page 76).


Municipalities: where democracy is born 1997: “1996: In the immediate post-election period, the outgoing National Assembly approved an excellent Municipal Law reform, achieving complete municipal financial autonomy and opening the possibility for local governments to take on more obligations” (page 21).


Municipalities: where democracy is born 1997: “1997: With the installation of newly elected mayors in the 145 municipalities, trained and experienced municipal administrators, services officials, accountants, secretaries and others were fired in a high percentage of the 92 mayors’ offices won by Liberals” (page 21).

January 7

Municipalities: where democracy is born 1997: “On January 7, 1997, the Supreme Court annulled the [municipal] reform and all other legislation passed in [the post-election] period at the urging of the incoming government” (page 21).

January 9

Chamorro 1998: “(L)a Asamblea Nacional inauguró a partir de su instalación el nueve de enero de 1997 el ejercicio de nuevos poderes y se convertirá en el eje central de la negociación política del país” (page 215). Describes the Assembly’s actions (pages 215-216).

Country profile. Nicaragua, Honduras 1996-1997: “The newly elected National Assembly, which sits from January 1997, has a total of 93 seats (including one each for Daniel Ortega, Guillermo Osorno and Noel Vidaurre, three unsuccessful presidential candidates)” (page 17). Lists the number of seats for each party. “Composition of the National Assembly, Jan 1997 (no of deputies)” (page 19). Lists the numbers of national and provincial deputies for each party and the parties whose unsuccessful presidential candidates are deputies.

Navarro 2004: “En la legislatura de 1997-2001, el Frente Sandinista contó con 8 mujeres parlamentarias…y el Partido Liberal Constitucionalista con 2 mujeres” (page 71). Lists their names.

The observation of the 1996 Nicaraguan elections: a report of the Council of Freely Elected Heads of Government 1996: “The new National Assembly was inaugurated on Jan. 9, 1997, and after being sworn in by the Supreme Electoral Council, Assembly members elected their leaders” (page 35).

Walker 2000: “Alemán and his Liberal plurality in the legislature immediately called into question the legitimacy of the 1994 Military Code, the 1995 amendments to the 1987 Constitution, and the 1996 Property Stability Law 2092. In addition, seeing the Sandinistas as unredeemable evil, they maneuvered to deprive them of the full number of seats on the executive body of the National Assembly to which they appeared entitled. These moves resulted in months of chaos featuring general strikes, demonstrations, raucous and hate-filled invective, renewed armed insurgency, FSLN boycotts of the Assembly, constitutional challenges, sporadic attempts at public dialogue, and behind-the-scenes bargaining between the leaders of the two major political forces” (page 83).

January 10

Close 1999: Alemán is inaugurated on 10 January, 1997 (page 109).

Close 2004: “The political system Arnoldo Alemán inherited on taking office had six key traits” (page 10). Describes these.

Pérez-Baltodano 2004: “Despite the deplorable political, social, and economic conditions of Nicaraguan society during the period 1996-2002, the Nicaraguan Catholic Church maintained unwavering support for the Alemán government, defended it against accusations of corruption and abuses of power, and even attacked and condemned those who denounced it” (page 87).


Hoyt 2004: “The [Sandinista] deputies united with nongovernmental organizations representing women to oppose, unsuccessfully, the Alemán initiative to fold the Institute on Women into the new Ministry of the Family” (page 26).

Luciak 2001: “In February 1997, President Alemán attempted to railroad the National Assembly into creating a Family Ministry, which was supposed to replace the Instituto Nicaragüense de la Mujer…Only the rapid mobilization of the women’s movement in opposition to this proposal—considered a threat to the institutions favoring women’s rights--prevented the immediate approval of this initiative” (page 224).


Country profile. Nicaragua, Honduras 1998-1999: “The PLN broke away from the Alianza Liberal in April 1997, leaving the alliance with 41 of the 93 seats in the assembly” (page 9).


Elecciones en la costa, 1998 1998: “En mayo de 1997, oficialmente, el Consejo Supremo Electoral convocó a las elecciones en el Caribe” (page 7).


Country profile. Nicaragua, Honduras 1998-1999: “A final peace agreement is signed with the ‘recontras’” (page 6).


Country profile. Nicaragua, Honduras 1998-1999: “Composition of the National Assembly, Aug 1997 (number of deputies)” (page 10). Lists the number of deputies for each party.


Close 1999: “In September, [the Sandinistas and the Liberals in the National Assembly] agreed on amendments to the Electoral Law that greatly benefited them as the two biggest parties” (page 217).

Country profile. Nicaragua, Honduras 1998-1999: “September 1997: The Alemán government and the Sandinistas reach an agreement aiming to settle the dispute over properties confiscated in the 1980s” (page 6).


Luciak 2001: “The National Assembly, with the votes of the FSLN and Liberal Alliance, approved the new property law in December. The sense of betrayal extended to high-ranking Sandinistas…In the opinion of many observers, a pact among the elites had once again protected their interests while abandoning the poor” (page 55). “Tomás Borge threatened FSLN leaders who opposed the party’s pact with the Alemán government with expulsion” (page 236).



Elecciones en la costa, 1998 1998: En enero, “la exclusión del FSLN en el nombramiento de los miembros de la directiva de la Asamblea Nacional para un nuevo período…llevó a una crisis política y a una virtual parálisis del poder legislativo” (page 7).

March 1: election in the Autonomous Regions

Country report. Nicaragua, Honduras 1998, 2: “On March 1 st the ruling Alianza Liberal swept to victory in the regional council election on the Atlantic Coast…Overall the Liberals took 50.5% of the vote, compared with 25.5% for the Sandinistas and 24% for other parties…However, turnout for the election was low, at 57%” (page 10). “ Nicaragua: voting in the Atlantic Coast elections (% of vote)” (page 10). Gives percent of vote in the North and South Atlantic regions for Liberals, Sandinistas, and “others.”

EcoCentral March 12, 1998: “Governing party wins elections in Atlantic Autonomous Provinces” (pages 3-5).

Elecciones en la costa, 1998 1998: Includes information on all aspects of the election. “(L)as elecciones incluyeron las dos regions autónomas, la sur o RAAS y la norte o RAAN, comprendiendo 14 municipios (6 municipios en la RAAN y 8 en la RAAS), 151,141 electores con documento de votación (ciudadanos de 16 años en adelante), 335 comunidades indígenas extendidas en el litoral norte, disponiéndose de 683 juntas receptoras de votos (JRV), de las cuales 389 funcionaron en el Atlántico Norte y 294 en el Sur, ubicadas en 30 circunscripciones electorales (15 por cada región), para elegir a 90 concejales (45 por cada región) y que adicionalmente contó con unos 1,000 observadores nacionales e internacionales que vigilaron las elecciones” (page 5). “(D)e 151,141 ciudadanos inscritos, sólo ejercieron ese derecho unos 82,000” (page 7). “Resultados oficiales de las elecciones en las regiones autónomas de Nicaragua en marzo de 1998” (page 24). “Distribución de escaños oficiales en las regiones autónomas de Nicaragua a raiz de las elecciones en marzo de 1998” (page 25).

Fisk 1998: “General data” (page i). Includes registered voters, accredited voters, votes cast, valid votes, invalid votes, and voter participation for Atlantic Coast elections of 1996 and 1998. “Election results, council seats” (page ii). Gives number of seats won in each region by party. “On March 1, 1998, the citizens of Nicaragua’s Atlantic Coast cast ballots for the third time in eight years for regional councils…Each region has a 45-member council whose purpose is to implement national development programs and administer social assistance efforts…While the elections were primarily a contest between the two largest national parties—the PLC and the FSLN—the autonomy theme motivated the emergence of a number of local parties: YATAMA maintained 12 seats, and two new parties—PIM and the Coast Alliance—won seats on the councils. The PLC won 44 seats (seven more than it won in 1994) and the FSLN held on to 25 seats (eight fewer than it won in 1994)” (page 1). “The campaign” (pages 7-9). “The vote” (pages 10-11). “Appendix: election results by district” (follows page 15). Gives number of votes for each party in each district.

Guadamuz 1998: “Legislación electoral” (pages 107-110). “Clima pre-electoral” (pages 111-112). “Día de la votación” (pages 112-113). Gives results.

Nicaragua Atlantic Coast elections, March 1, 1998: observation report 1998: “Nicaraguans in the North and South Autonomous Regions of the Atlantic Coast...elected their 45-member Regional Councils on March 1, 1998. Ballots were cast by 86,121 citizens, representing 57 percent of the Atlantic Coast’s accredited voters. Fourteen political groups, ranging from national parties to local ‘popular associations,’ fielded candidates in the RAAN. Thirteen political organizations were on ballots in the RAAS” (page 3). “Final results of March 1 elections for regional councils” (page 5). Gives percent of vote and number of seats won by each party in each region. “Election administration” (pages 9-12). “Election environment” (pages 13-15). “Distribution of voting documents in Nicaragua’s Atlantic Coast” (appendix II). “Political organizations participating in Nicaragua’s Atlantic Coast elections” (appendix III). Gives number of electoral districts in which candidates were fielded, state funding received, and additional funding received.

Observaciónes electorales en las Regiones Autónomas de la Costa Atlántica, Nicaragua, 1998 1999: “El marco legal” (pages 5-13). “La etapa pre-comicial” (pages 21-27). “El día de las elecciones” (pages 29-37). “La etapa post-comicial” (pages 39-45). “Las denuncias” (pages 47-50). Anexo 8 (unpaged) has tables with results for this election and compares these results with those for previous elections in the autonomous regions.

March 4

Close 1999: “In March 1998, Daniel Ortega’s…stepdaughter, Zoilamérica Narváez, accused him of having sexually and psychologically abused her for nineteen years, since she was eleven” (page 201).

Elecciones en la costa, 1998 1998: El 4 de marzo “la denuncia de Zoila América Narváez contra Daniel Ortega—su padrastro y máximo líder del FSLN—por abuso sexual…estremecería lo suficiente al FSLN como para no permitirle entretenerse con su reciente derrota en el Atlántico” (page 7).


Country profile. Nicaragua, Honduras 1998-1999: “As a result of the split in the PLC, the National Assembly ground to a halt in May and June 1998, delaying much necessary legislation” (page 7).

Elecciones en la costa, 1998 1998: “(E)l 4 de mayo de 1998, Nicaragua se vio sacudida por un nuevo escándalo, al descubrirse que un avión jet de uso presidencial fue robado en Estados Unidos y presumiblemente utilizado para el trasiego de droga” (page 6). “Para el 4 de mayo de 1998 tomaban posesión del Consejo Regional del Atlántico Sur y del Norte los nuevos concejales, con claro predominio del PLC tanto en la planilla general de los consejos como en sus directivas” (page 7).

Isbester 2001: “(N)o one stood against Ortega at the [FSLN] May Congress, and he, Tomás Borge, and many other members of the old guard were re-elected to their party positions unanimously. The Congress did not deal with the critical issues facing it” (page 206).

Luciak 2001: “The May 1998 FSLN Congress brought the party’s weaknesses to public light” (page 125). “It was clear that the Congress needed to reform the party program, strengthen the FSLN’s organizational structure, and elect new party authorities that would lead the FSLN back into power…[With Zoilamérica Ortega Murrillo’s accusations] the focus of the Congress changed dramatically. Her charges brought the internal discussion over party reform to a halt…At the Congress, the Ortega supporters closed ranks behind their embattled leader” (page 126). “The FSLN finally was in compliance with its own quota on female representation following its National Congress in May 1998. Five new women assumed positions on the Directorate” (page 175).


The road to the elections was paved with fraud 2001: “(T)he Center Group…emerged in June 1998 and was made up of six parties—the [MRS, the PC, the MDN, the PLI, the APC] and the Resistance Party. The grouping announced that it would participate in the 2000 municipal elections and the 2001 presidential and legislative elections ‘under a single banner,’ but the effort soon faltered” (page 31).


Alcántara Sáez 1999: “(E)n julio de 1998 se formó una coalición integrada por la Alianza Popular Conservadora, el Movimiento Democrático Nicaragüense y la Unión Social Cristiana. El denominador común...es el de formaciones con muy poca militancia, escasa relevancia social, extremadamente personalistas y programáticamente difusas” (page 298).

Keesing’s record of world events July 1998: “In early July seven political parties, describing themselves as ‘centrist’, formed an alliance to contest the municipal and presidential elections of 2000 and 2001. The parties were: the Popular Conservative Alliance (APC), the Nicaraguan Democratic Movement (MDN), the Movement for a New Alternative (MNA), the Conservative Party of Nicaragua (PCN), the Independent Liberal Party (PLI), the Nicaraguan Resistance Party (PRN) and the Social Christian Union (USC).  On July 11 the Liberal Constitutionalist Party (PLC) of President Alemán (a member of the ruling Liberal Alliance coalition), held a convention at which Leopoldo Navarro, hitherto the party secretary general, was elected as party president in place of Alemán” (electronic edition). 

The road to the elections was paved with fraud 2001: “During the July 1998 Liberal convention, Alemán described the FSLN as the Liberal’s only political rival, pointing to the results of the 1996 elections” (page 31).


Booth 1999: “Late in 1998, hurricane Mitch and its related flooding, deaths, and infrastructure damage created grave problems for Nicaragua’s already deeply depressed economy and for the Alemán administration” (page 99).

Walker 2000: “(S)upport for Alemán and the Liberals was also hurt by their poor handling of the disaster visited on Nicaragua by Hurricane Mitch in October 1998. Over twenty-four hundred people were killed and nearly a fifth of Nicaragua’s population left homeless” (page 84).


Kampwirth 2004: The Comité Nacional Feminista reactivated “itself with twenty-five organizations and five individual members in November 1998” (page 66).


Country profile. Nicaragua, Honduras 1999-2000: “In 1999, in an effort to capitalize on the problems of the Liberals and the Sandinistas, seven small parties formed a centrist alliance, the Movimiento Patria…to contest the presidential election in 2001” (page 8).

Isbester 2001: “Instead of stability, it appears that El Pacto is galvanizing new political actions. A new political coalition sprang up called the Democratic Movement. It was comprised of Sandinista splinter groups and six other political parties, the huge and influential Emergency Relief and Reconstruction Coalition, fifty other social organizations and economic guilds, and individuals. As an alliance, it spanned the political spectrum from left to right and has divergent goals. It was, however, an alliance large enough and with enough resources to be registered and to run in the next elections in 2002” (page 211).

NotiCen June 29, 2000: “In late 1999, an independent political group, the Coordinadora para la Defensa de la Democracia, emerged to protest constitutional reforms proposed in PLC-FSLN pacts” (LADB).

Walker 2000: “By 1999, various groups disgusted by the behavior of the Liberals and the FSLN were talking of creating a third force, ‘The Fatherland Movement,’ which, perhaps with Comptroller Agustín Jarquín as its presidential candidate, could challenge the established parties in the 2001 general election” (page 85).


Hoyt 2004: “In January 1999, the Sandinista Assembly and the FSLN legislative caucus decided that Daniel Ortega would assume his seat in the National Assembly for the upcoming legislative session and be their house leader” (page 27).


Pérez-Baltodano 2004: “These documents [from the Contraloría General de la República] show that from 1990 to 1996 [while he was mayor of Managua] Alemán’s personal wealth had increased by 900 percent” (page 90).

Wheaton 2002: “In February 1999, Nicaragua’s Comptroller General Agustín Jarquín…released a report showing that the president had vastly increased his wealth while he was Mayor of Managua” (page 77).


Country profile. Nicaragua, Honduras 1999-2000: Events “seriously eroded the PLC’s standing with the electorate, culminating in April 1999 with mass protests by students and transport workers in Managua, which paralysed the capital for several days” (page 7).


Hoyt 2004: “Many leading public figures (including former president Violeta Chamorro, former vice president Sergio Ramírez, and poets Giaconda Belli and Ernesto Cardenal) called for a referendum on the Pact” (page 34).


Country profile. Nicaragua, Honduras 1999-2000: “Composition of the National Assembly, Aug 1999” (page 10). Give the number of deputies for each party. “The National Assembly consists of 90 members plus those unsuccessful presidential and vice-presidential candidates who receive over 1.1% of the national vote” (page 10).

Hoyt 2004: “The Pact was completed on August 17, 1999” (page 29). “On the 23 rd, a special commission began the task of putting the agreed-upon points into proper legal form…A few days later, the Sandinista Assembly met for nine hours to discuss and approve all twelve points of the Pact…The son of the party’s founder, Deputy Carlos Fonseca Teran, was adamant in his rejection of the points in the Pact, whatever the political cost to him” (page 30).

Isbester 2001: “In order to legally consolidate power in his own hands, Alemán needed to reform the constitution. In order to pass constitutional changes, the Liberals and the FSLN had to negotiate an agreement. Constitutional negotiations dominated the political agenda of both parties from August 1998 until the new constitution was announced in August 1999. ‘El Pacto,’ as it has been dubbed, further divided the FSLN both for its process of closed-door meetings and for its end result of creating two-party ‘caudillismo’…One of the key reforms was to the Electoral Law…The end product, however, skewed the electoral system in favor of a two-party state…The percent that a presidential candidate needs to win in the first ballot and thereby avoid a run-off vote was reduced from 45 percent to 40 percent and to 35 percent where the party leads its closest rival by at least 5 percent” (page 208). Describes other changes. “Despite the benefit to the FSLN and despite Ortega’s insistence that 99.9 percent of Sandinistas supported El Pacto, the FSLN continued to split over the value of the constitutional reforms. When El Pacto was put to the vote in the National Assembly, one third of Sandinistas refused to vote in favor of it. The constitutional reforms are even less popular with the Nicaraguan populace” (page 210).

Is the game all sewn up? Questions and contradictions 1999: “On the night of August 17, [Ortega and Alemán] announced 33 agreements reached by their respective parties…Each and every accord furthers the interests of the two parties, and above all of the two signatories’ loyal circles. Each one is also designed to consolidate a two-party system, or, to be more exact, a two-‘caudillo’ system…The Sandinista Assembly…ratified all the pact agreements on August 29” (page 3). Describes the 18 agreements that “establish the new rules of the electoral game or reform existing ones” (page 4).


Close 2004: “On November 8, 1999, [Comptroller General Agustín] Jarquín [is] arrested and charged with fraud against the state” (page 23).

Hoyt 2004: “(O)n November 19, 1999, PLC and Sandinista deputies presented to the First Secretary of the National Assembly the proposed Pact…All thirty-eight PLC deputies co-sponsored the measure, while twenty-seven of thirty-six Sandinistas signed on. Leaders of five other Liberal parties, however, distanced themselves. Further, a group of dissident Sandinista deputies held a press conference to declare that they would not vote for the amendments in the Assembly” (page 30).

Stahler-Sholk 2004: “President Alemán jailed Jarquín for 44 days, but was forced to release him following massive protest marches” (page 541).


Close 2004: The Pact “changed the electoral law to give the two dominant parties a huge advantage over a much reduced field of competitors and permitted the adoption of constitutional amendments that eviscerated the institutions intended to assure accountability. Its apparent objectives were to institutionalize what we call electoral caudillismo, divide important government positions between the Liberals and Sandinistas, and create a political duopoly in which the Liberals and Sandinistas controlled entry to Nicaragua’s political market. The net result of these changes was to leave Nicaraguans a government of highly partisan men instead of one guided by the rule of law” (page 4). “The Pact struck between Arnoldo Alemán’s Liberals and Daniel Ortega’s Sandinistas was different in significant ways from those of a half century before. There would be no guarantees of seats or positions, and elections were understood to be competitive and without foreseeable results. Yet it was still about quotas of power, because this Pact cemented support for a package of constitutional changes and amendments to other laws that protect the interests of the two leaders and their parties” (page 11). Describes the implications of the Pact (pages 11-12).

Hoyt 2004: “The National Assembly passed the Pact on December 9, 1999, seventy-one to seventeen, with two abstentions. The measure still had to be approved by the next National Assembly session in the new year for the constitutional amendments to take effect. Several Sandinista deputies opposed the Pact: Monica Baltodano, Angelina Rios, Carlos Fonseca, and José González” (page 30).

Luciak 2001: “The pact between Nicaragua’s two major parties was finalized in December 1999. The Liberal party and the Sandinistas joined forces to reform the Nicaraguan constitution with the support of 72 of the 93 deputies in parliament. Of the seventeen articles that were reformed, one concerned the future of President Arnoldo Alemán, who was guaranteed a seat in parliament following the end of his presidential mandate. Knowledgeable observers interpreted the guaranteed seat as a way for the president to escape potential corruption charges after leaving office” (page 144).

Orozco 2002: “(D)emocracy was strongly undermined by Alemán and the FSLN’s negotiation of a political formula that would protect his influence in power after his term ended. The pact between these groups was designed to exclude other political forces from electoral competition or at least make participation extremely difficult” (page 113). Gives details of pact (pages 113-115). “The Alemán government and the FSLN with Daniel Ortega as its leader, designed an almost perfect political formula that excludes other political actors from choosing the form of their participation in politics. Political parties were legally constrained through the reforms which eliminated their chances to run for government…After the reforms were implemented a political machine emerged designed to enforce a new ‘caudillo’ system, organized through hierarchical settings, from top to bottom” (page 115).

Wheaton 2002: “One of the advantages of this pact is that it provided the leaders of each party, along with their cohorts and the elected delegates in the National Assembly, immunity from any prosecution for malfeasance, corruption or any other crime with which they might be charged while in public office” (pages 96-97).